3D Printed Wood: Make It Wooden Without Actually Cutting Trees

Deforestation is a rising concern during our time. Cutting trees for necessities as well as frivolities has adverse effects on the overall climate of earth. Not only this, there are diverse  consequences of deforestation like desertification, soil erosion and water cycle disruption. Thus, 3D printed wood poses the possibility of revolutionizing the production of objects of daily-use, like furniture. Let’s find out how.

3D printiled wood

3D printing wood involves making any object look like it is made of wood without actually using wood in making it. The need for texture and appearance are met without having a detrimental effect on the environment.

A filament called Polylactic Acid or Polylactide(PLA, for short), when printed, looks exactly like wood. However, there are different manufacturers who provide different types of filaments based on the consumer’s needs. Woods like cork, ebony, bamboo, olive, pine, coconut, birch, etc., offer a huge variety to choose from.

3D printed wood filament types are typically composed of 30% wood and 70% PLA. This method also uses other byproducts from the wood industry. New advancements in the process can help mimic any type of wood.

What is the process of 3D printing?

The process of 3D printing wood is similar to the general procedure involved in 3-dimensional printing. Thin layers of sawdust are spread on the object and bonded together with the help of lignin. Lignin is one of the byproducts obtained from trees. This recreates the particles of wood layer by layer. These particle layers go through the objects to provide them with the required finish. With this technique, it is also possible to print complex outputs  within the time frame.

An estimate of 10-15 billion trees are lost every year, most of which go to waste. This waste can be constructively used for 3D printing as there is a rising demand for it. “They pay you to pick it up”, says Ric Fulop, CEO of Desktop Metals. He has also mentioned how using trees for furniture is essentially dematerializing it, whereas 3D printing is putting it all together.

Forust – An ode to save trees

Virginia San Fratello, one of the founders of Forust, has sung praises of 3D printing wood as a method to achieve complexities in object geometries which may require a local craftsman weeks to compete with. Forust is a startup which is being launched by Desktop Metals. It is a large-scale 3D printing company, which desires to collaborate with architects and designers as a part of its initiative to take 3D printing to greater heights.

The company is already working with Yves Behar’s Fuseproject with regards to its first collection. This company especially focuses on making 3D wood printing affordable, reliable and sustainable. It is basically giving a new life to otherwise discarded products by creating strong and environment friendly alternatives.

Future of 3D printed wood goods

Without any debate, 3D wood printing can be used in and out of homes, constructions, etc. This is by far the most sustainable way to make wooden goods. 

This technology can be used in making a wide range of products like wine trays, bowls, baskets, swatches, etc. along with almost all household décor items. Furniture like chairs, tables, wardrobes, boards, etc. also have a good advantage of the wooden finish due to this brilliant technique.

Found this interesting? You will also like A 3D Printed House: Would You Dare To Live In One?

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